Around the Western world particularly, there have been very obvious pointers to Christmas Day. Lights, trees, sales promotions, posters, special TV programmes and Christmas services have all been telling us that there’s a special event coming up, and today is it! But what about that first day? How would people know that something very special was about to happen? No coloured lights, no sales hype, no synagogue carol services.
Bethlehem was a bustling village full of census crowds. No rooms to rent anywhere, no local hospital maternity unit to lend a hand, no church night shelter to keep out the cold night air. Just a manger somewhere, presumably, in an animal shed. The only way anyone was going to know this was Christmas day was by direct revelation from God. The prophets had been saying it was going to happen, but no-one really understood when.
‘There were shepherds living out in the fields near by…An angel of the Lord appeared to them’ (Luke 2:8-9). God revealed His plan and actions supernaturally, confirming His original word to Mary. As a result she treasured up, and pondered on, the events of that night. If there had been no angelic visitation, would we have a Christmas celebration today?
Today is Christmas day. As believers in Jesus Christ we’re celebrating the truth of the incarnation. That truth has been revealed to us through the Holy Spirit of God, not simply by intellectual assent to a doctrine, or someone’s bright ideas. We know that it’s the time of Emmanuel, God with us, because Christ has come to live in us through faith, and so we rejoice and give thanks to Him. ‘Yea Lord we greet thee’ goes the old English carol.
But how will everyone else on this planet know why we celebrate today? - Obviously not through the marketing of Christmas goods, or the pretty decorations, or even through the posters for our church celebrations. If that were so, the carol services around the world would all be filled to overflowing. The best evangelistic programmes we can devise still depend on one thing - the revelation of His truth by God Himself. It’s only by the convincing work of the Holy Spirit that Jesus becomes alive in our hearts, and thereby gives real meaning to Christmas.
Let’s pray today that there’ll be a mighty moving of heaven on earth, with great companies of the heavenly host appearing to shepherds, wise men, young couples, families, singles, homeless persons, politicians and people everywhere, so the earth will indeed be filled with the sound of praise to Jesus, God incarnate, and now exalted forever; ‘O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord’.
Prayer: O Jesus, our hearts are filled with thanks and praise to You. We know You are God, the Son, come to earth for us and now risen and restored to Your rightful place in heaven. We worship You and give You glory. Our prayer is for those millions in our world who don’t yet know You, that You will bring Your revelation to them so they might respond to the Gospel and join us in celebrating the truth of Christmas, Amen.